Samsung licenses Symbian OS

The licensing agreement gives Symbian more momentum in its battle against Microsoft and PalmSource to power the next generations of wireless phones, the company says.

Ben Charny Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Ben Charny
covers Net telephony and the cellular industry.
Ben Charny
2 min read
Samsung Electronics said Monday that it's licensed the Symbian operating system for use in future wireless devices including "smart phones."

The licensing agreement gives Symbian more momentum in its battle against Microsoft and PalmSource to power the next generations of wireless phones, according to Symbian.

Operating systems from Symbian, PalmSource and Microsoft combine the functions of a cell phone and a personal digital assistant. These so-called smart phones are beginning to trickle into the world's wireless market.

Monday's announcement from Samsung means all five of the world's top phone makers--Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson, Samsung and Siemens--have licensed the Symbian operating system, which makes the software company the dominant player in that market, Symbian Vice President Peter Bancroft said. "Look at the evidence of the numbers," he said.

The five handset makers are also investors in the company created four years ago to sell the Symbian operating system to phone makers.

Two of those same top five have licensed something other than Symbian for future smart phones. Siemens licensed a version of Microsoft's phone operating system, according to Microsoft. Samsung now licenses all three competing operating systems, a Samsung representative said.

The phone Samsung intends to build will use handset maker Nokia's Series 60 user interface, which Samsung recently licensed. Samsung did not provide additional details about how much the phone would cost or when it would be available.

Symbian's operating system is already inside Nokia's 9290 Communicator phone, which costs $599 and is on sale in the United States. Nokia sells the 9290 Communicator through its Web site and CompUSA. Wireless carriers Cingular Wireless and T-Mobile Wireless are offering service for the device.

Ed Suwanjindar, a product manager for Microsoft's mobile division, downplayed the Samsung licensing deal. "In the absence of Symbian products, they seem to be delivering quite a few press releases," he said.

Phones using Microsoft's smart-phone software will debut in Europe later this year. The software giant's smart-phone software has also been licensed by manufacturers such as Taiwan-based HTC, British manufacturer Sendo International and China-based Compal. Both HTC and Sendo plan releases this year of phones using the Microsoft software.

The Samsung-built SPH-I300 will come with PalmSource's operating system for smart phones and will arrive in stores worldwide "imminently," said Michael Mace, chief competitive officer at PalmSource, which sells Palm's operating system. Kyocera Wireless and Handspring have also licensed Palm's operating system and include it in devices now on the market.